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  The Chatter Box : Travel
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Cuba by sighthound on 22 February 2006 10:02pm
I just heard a story on NPR about a Christian Church group (Methodist? Presbyterian? my mind is a sieve this morning) that has had a permit from the US govt. to visit other churches of their denomination in Cuba for many years. They had been encouraged in these visits by previous US Administrations. Well, they just had their permit cancelled. The excuse the govt. gave was that several of their people took a bit time away from being in church and committed the subversive act of ... visiting a museum! For this transgression, they can no longer travel legally to Cuba. Apparently, other groups have also had their permits cancelled because of trumped up allegations, too. The report included a snippy comment from dear Condi to the effect that, since there is no religious freedom in Cuba, there is no point in them going anyway. (The spokesman for the religious group disputed this - said things had loosened up in Cuba over the years.)

A side-bar to the story was another report of an (un-named) American-owned hotel in Mexico that was hosting delegations for some sort of conference which was approached by the US govt. and told to throw out the Cuban delegation or they would face large fines back here in the US. The hotel did so and is now facing fines by the Mexican govt. How the Bush Administration justified interferring with business practices entirely within another country was not specified (but why should that surprise me? Bush doesn't let legal niceities get in way of his agendas.)

Anyway, since the support of the Miami Cubans has always been so important to the Bush family, apparently restrictions against Cuba are going to be increasing. I really would like to visit Cuba. Have any other Americans here managed to get there recently? I've heard that it used to be that, if you flew in from Mexico, your passport would not be stamped and the US govt. would be none the wiser but, with all the new Homeland "Security" controls, I'll bet that that loophole has been closed. Anyone know how an American (from what used to be the Land of the Free)can get to see Cuba these days?
Re: Cuba by Ahren on 23 February 2006 6:55pm
When they stamp your passport that's just a visa permitting you to stay in that country for however long it says on the stamp, so i think they'd stamp it anyway. I didn't think that anybody with an American passport could get in to Cuba. I have absolutely no idea how you could do it- you might have to wait until Castro dies!!
Re: Cuba by tucsonmike on 23 February 2006 9:33pm
The funny part is I have absolutely no curiousity about going to Cuba. Just me I guess.
Re: Cuba by pedro64 on 23 February 2006 11:36pm
The Embargo on Cuba is in place by the U.S government,Not the Cuban Government
U.S citizens are welcome in Cuba.The more the merrier (yankee dollars wanted)My friend Zane from Texas travelled with me(im Brtish)We went in from Barbados his problems arose on his arrival back in the states grilled by U.S immigration what was he doing there Etc.After getting his wrist slapped he was allowed to go home.But this was 3 years ago so I would look into it further now in case congalita shoots you on your return.
Re: Cuba by sighthound on 24 February 2006 1:23am
Yes, friends who went several years ago on an authorized "arts exchange" said they were welcomed very warmly. So the passport of your Texas friend got stamped? What I'd heard was that if you arrived on some Mexican flights, Cuban immigration would give you a wink and not stamp your passport so you wouldn't get into trouble when you went back to the US. I'm sure there must be more severe tracking by the US now. sigh
Re: Cuba by Blairhoyle on 24 February 2006 2:24pm
I'm not to up to date on my US-Cuba relations only know about the obvious things - ie military intervention - but are relations still not very good between the two countries??
Re: Cuba by sighthound on 24 February 2006 7:14pm
My lefty, paranoid fears (which have been spot on on more than one occasion)are suggesting to me that this stepping up of restrictions is because the Bush administration thinks Castro will not live to much longer and they want to be able manage who succeeds him and by military force, if necessary. Stranger things have happened but I think the hubris of the current administration wouldn't bat an eye about waging two wars at the same time since they refuse to admit the absolute mess they have made of the one they are currently managing. Hopefully Castro will hang on until we get a less imperialistic president (and a new Congress that won't roll over when presented with lies.) End of rant - this isn't a political forum so I apologize - I just want to see Cuba before I die....
Re: Cuba by cjcottam on 26 February 2006 4:40pm
Hi. I left Cuba about a week ago. The Cuban Immigration don't really touch your passport except to look at the photo and check who you are. The visa is stamped on a separate piece of paper that your return when exiting the country. As far as I am aware US Citizens CAN visit the country - but the fines are on the steep side if the government finds out upon your return. It's pretty east to get there from Cancun, Mexico. That's what me and my wife did (Though we're British so no probs). You should see it if possible. It is a beautiful, beautiful country.

Re: Cuba by George on 26 February 2006 5:47pm
Well, as we know, some Christian Churches have a strong political element to them. Therefore, it should come as no surprise if they receive a "frosty" reception in Cuba from time to time. I think Condi's remarks could best be interpreted as tongue-in-cheek. Progress in Cuba could be described as 2 steps forward and 1 step back.
Re: Cuba by tucsonmike on 26 February 2006 6:35pm
Cuba will have a sorry future when El Jefe is gone. At the risk of sounding gloomy, I think they will have a civil war. I think in the end, they will become a Spanish speaking Haiti. Maybe one day I will go with some of you to Cuba, because you have piqued my curiousity.

BTW, I hope I am very wrong and someone can say that to me.
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